I was legitimately sad when I saw that Paul Reubens passed away. Even though I hadn't seen it in a long time, "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" was one of those movies that I've probably seen more times than I would like to recall. To this day, it is still referenced a fair amount throughout the Castellani household. But I had not seen it from beginning to end in a long time. There was a part of me that was afraid to. I didn't want to feel jaded about Pee-wee Herman. I want to enjoy the innocence, but I watched it last night, and this movie is still an absolute classic.
I've talked about it before, but the most important thing for me regarding moving making is that I need to care about the characters. You root for Pee-wee Herman 30 seconds into this movie. It may be because I watched it late at night, but I was almost tearing up at the beginning of this film. Pee-wee Herman is such a wholesome guy. He's so eternally optimistic, but not in an annoying way. He has childlike optimism, But he can function as an adult. If this movie were made in the modern age, this character would be too stupid to be likable. He has actual dimensions to his character. Sometimes, he can be an asshole, but he's functional, wholesome, and loves his bike. ￼￼￼￼
There is no movie like "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure." There's no film I can think of that is meant for children yet features such disturbing imagery. Tim Burton directed this. Tim Burton is a visionary, but he's been way more style than substance in the recent part of his career. He finds a perfect balance with this. This could've been a complete mess in the hands of a lesser director. You have Pee-wee Herman, maybe the most wholesome, innocent character in all the fiction, and you put him in an environment with frightening imagery. Large Marge is every bit as scary as she was when I was a kid. That style allows the movie to stand on its own. ￼￼
I do love this movie, but I acknowledge it's not everyone's cup of tea. I'll always appreciate how weird it is, but there are moments when it's too disturbing for children and yet too silly for adults. I can't think of any film that compares to it, but in the modern age, I don't know if I can necessarily recommend this as a film that people should show to young children. But it varies per family. If you were a cool kid like me, you'd enjoy it.
Now that Paul Reubens has sadly passed on, we will never get to see him portray Pee-wee Herman again. I want to send this message to film executives everywhere- PLEASE Hollywood, for the love of God, never let anyone else play Pee-wee Herman. I know you want to. I know you want to do a soft reboot involving Pee-Wee's long-lost son. You want to do a flashback that features a CG, de-aged Paul Reubens. Don't fucking do it. What you did with Christopher Reeve in that stupid Flash movie was absolutely offensive. If you do it with Pee-wee, my soul might be sucked out of my body.
I've talked about this before, but movies are meant to be entertainment. I have no issue with the film having a message. Depending on the backdrop in the story, I don't even care if that message is political in nature. But we have gotten too wrapped up and ensuring every piece of entertainment has some underlying subtext. It makes a movie like "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" so innocent. It's just a movie about a guy who wants to get his bike back and along the way comes across a million different personalities. How they handle those personalities could've come across as mean-spirited, but it's not. It is undeniably wholesome. It never feels like it's looking down upon or judging anybody. Characters with limited screen time are given legitimate development, except for Francis. Francis is just smarmy. Besides him, you get to know a lot of different supporting characters, and you see how pee-wee impacts their lives. The character that taught everyone he came across in this movie to stay positive and chase their dreams is the same character that taught an entire generation of children that same lesson.
"This is your dream. You have to follow it. You can't just wish and hope for something to come true. You have to make it happen."